In a real fisticuffs contest, many of these players and combatants would stand little chance, but with an arcade stick or controller in their hands — preference is debatable — size or strength matter little. No, the only things that speak to your fighting game skills are your god-like hand-eye coordination, reaction speed, mental capacity, and overall moxy in the face of your opponent. There is far more than meets the eye here and the game is as much a testament to your physical abilities as it is your mental.
Getting into anything can be an intimidating task, so fear not, my noobish reader, I am here to help you learn a little bit about competitive gaming’s fastest growing phenomenon and teach you some of the terminology you will be hearing during the many live streams, commentary, or reading in the “too fast to comprehend” chats the stream monsters spew forth. Now, some of this varies by game, so I will break it down where necessary.
Round 1: Universal Terms
GDLK: Stands for “god-like” and is overused as far as I’m concerned. Nevertheless, you will hear and see it frequently. Can stand for anything that is beyond the norm skill -wise. Anything awesome is god-like to the stream monsters.
Stream Monsters: A term that has transformed as a slight due to the overwhelming negativity shown in the stream chats these days, but the term grew from a good place. It represents the life blood of the community. The people who tune in to watch any and all streams for fighting games and comment on them. Good or bad, the viewers are what grow a community and the stream monsters are here to stay.
Salty: Basically a sore loser. Any negative reaction will do to warrant this statement. These reactions can vary from just a look to flat-out smashing controllers after a loss. All this has happened and more. Losing is never a good feeling and there are a lot of years old rivalries that exist here. Remmember, a lot of money is on the line, as well as your reputation.
Bodied: As you would suspect, “bodied” stands for a good ol’ fashion ass whuppin’. Doesn’t matter who did it or what form it comes in; it happens to the best of us. For me personally, it happens all too frequently. You see someone get perfected; they got “bodied.”
Free: Relatively the same as “bodied.” Forgive my use of the the word, but it is used much too “freely” by commentators and chat participants alike. If you are losing and it looks like clockwork, you are “free” to your opponent.
Zoning: A keep-away tactic used mostly in Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom. Can be a frowned-upon strategy to use, but when mastered, it’s an art form. You’ll see a player who has perfected this strategy for UMVC3 this weekend named Chris G. Can also be referred to laming out or even cheap. All that matters is winning!
Poke: Quick moves used to measure distance and implement strategy. Can also halt opponents in their tracks. These take the form of normal moves with the press of one button. The foundation to any good player is the use or normal moves and pokes.
Meaty & Cross Up: “Meaty” means a timed jump and attack to coincide with your opponent getting up off the ground and generally negates any attempt to anti-air your attack. “Cross up” is a variation of this but forces your opponent to block on the opposite side of where they are getting up from.
Vortex: You’ll hear this constantly with anyone playing Akuma. A set of attacks that keep your opponent guessing on a knockdown or otherwise. It is advantageous to work towards a strong vortex with certain characters.
Safe: Any move used that doesn’t result in you being in danger to a counterattack. This relates to frame data on attack and block stun, but that is a bit beyond a beginner’s guide.
Buffering: Inputting the commands to a move before it is set to come out. It can also translate into someone readying for an opponent to attack and readying a specific counter that requires a complex input. Many advanced combos require buffering.
Reset: Both of the major two games played competitively scale the damage of your combo based on the more hits accumulate to the point of damage being negligible at higher numbers. To get around this, players attempt to reset the combo in varying ways. Basically, you want to reset the counter without almost any delay and without your opponent being able to react or surprising them at the attempt to reset. Very effective tactic that is essential to master for certain styles of character and play.
Round 2: Game Specific Terminology
Ultra Street Fighter 4
Focus Attack & Focus Attack Dash Cancel, a.k.a., FADC: Focus attacks are the basis of Street Fighter 4?s gameplay. Ink will surround the character and it allows you to eat certain attacks but continue with your own. This results in a loss of life, which is returned to you life bar after a certain time or until you are hit. Players will use it to negate block damage as well. FADC’ing means you can cancel any special move at the expense of two bars of your super meter to continue your attack or keep the pressure on. You’ll see Ryu players use this a lot with a Shoryuken FADC into his ultra 1 for huge damage.
Ume Shoryu/Mash Uppercut: Any anti-air that looks like it was incredible reaction on the players side is Ume, a Japanese term for “plum” but in this instance, referring to Daigo Umehara. Many players just say they are furiously repeating the motion on the controller to get the move out with little care of the situation — hence, the mash term. Quick note: mashing is looked down upon in advanced play. I mash.
EX Move: At the expense of one block of your super meter, you can implement an upgraded form of your special move. This requires to you press two of the buttons it requires instead of one. You’ll know an EX move when you see it when the character flashes yellow.
Red Focus & EX Red Focus: A brand-new addition for the latest Street Fighter release. A normal Red Focus requires two bars of meter and absorbs two hits, whereas the EX version requires a massive three bars of meter and will crumple your opponent at level 1. They function the same as regular focuses basically, but require meter to use. The EX version is really the game changer as it can be used within combos, extending them to crazy proportions. This will be the first EVO with this new gameplay feature implemented, so look for some craziness this weekend.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Happy Birthday: You’ll hear this when someone catches two of their opponents characters in a combo. Not a desired outcome for the beneficiary, as the character not currently being used takes more than double the damage of the main character currently on screen. This happens when a player calls an assist at the wrong time. There are various stories about the origins of this saying, but it’s said that it first occurred on PR Balrog’s birthday when he was eliminated after two of his characters were caught in a death combo. Everyone began screaming “Happy Birthday!” and it eventually went viral.
TAC or Team Aerial Combo: New mechanic in the third rendition of Marvel vs. Capcom. Basically, a continuation of your air combo that allows you to tag in another character of yours, thus more combo opportunity and with three options on how to direct your opponent. Hit them up, down, or horizontally on the controller for three different outcomes in relation to meter building and damage.
OTG: Certain combos force a knockdown and this opens the door for certain moves and assists to OTG the downed opponent into extending the combo. There is nothing you can do to defend this, but it does not continue infinitely and the longer the combo continues with knockdowns accumulating, the timing becomes to strict to continue the OTGs. Resets allow you to restart the combo and the opportunity to OTG you opponent.
DHC: Stands for “Delayed Hyper Combo.” It’s basically a reset that was vastly overpowered in the original release and has been rectified since the Ultimate version and subsequent patches. As you continue your combo and build to an inevitable super, you’d cancel the current hyper with that of one of your other characters that does not do damage. You do this to reset combos, tag another character in safely, or various other reasons. Almost all players use this tactic in their strategies.
X-Factor: A comeback mechanic usable once per match and is stronger the less characters you have remaining. The character will glow red and black while increasing speed, damage, and regaining a certain amount of health lost. It also negates block damage.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Meter Burn: Basically, an EX move from Street Fighter where you burn a single bar to improve the damage and properties of certain specials. A reoccurring theme in fighters is management of your meter and Injustice is no different.
Clash: Injustice is unique in that it doesn’t have rounds — the entire fight is won or lost from character select to losing animation without any resets in life. Once your first of two bars of health have been depleted, you have the option to prevent an opponent’s combo on any hit by pressing R2/RB and towards. This initiates an entertaining cinema that serves no strategic purpose beyond that of breaking the combo. Based on the meter you and your opponents have, you choose how much to use in the clash and health is awarded or lost based on your wager. This goes hand-in-hand with meter management. That extra health gained in a critical clash can mean the different in outlasting your opponent. You can only clash once per match and only when you are in your second/red health bar.
Bounces: Various moves have the properties to bounce your opponent in different ways. Wall bounce, overhead bounce, etc., can all be done to extend combos and damage, but the limit is one bounce per combo.
Trait: Every character has a unique trait that has various effects, recharges, and properties. Superman’s, for instance, increases his damage and speed during its duration and Batman’s is 1-3 rechargeable projectile bats that can be used for many purposes. I can’t list them all due to space. Some are more effective than others, but proper use of trait can make or break matches and further sets apart the gameplay of Injustice in the community.
Interactables and Transitions: Another unique aspect to the game is the ability to use the environment against your opponent. Certain characters use these differently, but this all adds a different dynamic to the action on screen as proper use of interactions can change the tide of the battle in either favor. Transitions are a set series of animations that knock your opponent from one part of the stage to another, inflicting significant damage as they go. They are all different and triggered on certain sides of only certain stages, but all are done by using back and 3 (strong attack). Trust me, you’ll know one when you see it and they never get old. One thing to remember is that Transitions are unclashable damage and cannot be avoided, so players, be sure to use them strategically as well as for the oohs and aaahhs!
Final Round: FIGHT!
There are various other terms — scrub, cheap, SRK, Shoto, ultras, supers, etc., — and the list goes on and on. Hopefully, if you’ve ever heard of or seen a fighting game, some of these will be familiar. I don’t have the space to cover everything here (sorry, Tekken, Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat, Super Smash Bros., anime fighters, etc.), but this should give you a head start.
It doesn’t matter if you are a long-time fan or just brand-new to the community — you won’t be disappointed by jumping in head, or fists, first. With this terminology primer and a metric ton of practice, you’ll be well on your way to taking the stage at EVO. Fighting games really are some of the most rewarding games once mastered, so don’t be afraid of putting your skills to the test in the ultimate form of gaming one on one.
Have a great EVO everyone!